Recently I came across a section called ‘How to Build a Sustainable Writing Practice’ in the Daily Appointment Calendar for Writers by Judy Reeves (pp 147-150). A Writer’s Book of Days, also by Reeves, is one of my favourite writing books, and below is a summarised version of a checklist on building a writing practice, but it could be applied to any creative endeavour.
- I identify myself as a writer. When someone asks me what I do, I answer, ‘I’m a writer’. Or at least I always include it.
- I give myself affirmations, claiming myself as a writer: notes in my notebook or journal, in my writing space or by saying them out loud.
- I have a writing space. Even if I actually write all over the place, I maintain a sacred space for my writing.
- I have the tools and materials and support I need for my writing. I buy or borrow books about writing and subscribe to literary journals and writing publications.
- I have writing friends with whom I write or talk about writing or do writing things with.
- I do writerly things: I’m a member of a writing group, I go to readings. I read interviews with writers and listen to what they say about the craft and life of being a writer.
- I write to writers whose work has impacted me, and thank them. In these letters I claim myself as a writer and tell the writer what their work meant to me, writer to writer.
- I make time for my writing on a regular basis.
- When I can’t keep my writing date, I acknowledge why and reschedule.
- When I see that I’m consistently breaking my appointments, I review what might be the cause – chosen time isn’t right, life is too busy right now, goals too high, ___ – and make changes where necessary.
- I put my writing time high up on my priorities list. Not some vague ‘when I can’ or ‘if I have time today’.
- I set aside enough time to build consistency; if not daily, at least five times a week.
- I also create special times for writing – a long weekend or a retreat (with other writers or by myself) or to participate in a conference or seminar where I’ll actually write.
- I write. When I go to my writing space, when I set aside the time, I don’t just think about writing or talk about writing. I write.
- When I’m stuck, I find out what’s holding me back. When I procrastinate, I acknowledge that’s what I’m doing. When I’m afraid, I face my fear and write through it. And when all is said and done, I write.
How are you travelling with your creative checklist?
[Photo: Cowra Japanese Gardens]